This is a guest post written by Demmy James, a fitness professional who believes in motivating people towards their personal health and fitness goals.
When it comes to setting a good example for your children, starting with physical activity is integral. By instilling good exercise and activity habits in your kids at a young age, you provide a solid foundation from which they can build the rest of their lives upon.
This in turn greatly reduces their risk of becoming overweight or obese, or experiencing any cardiovascular or metabolic issues, while also facilitating normal growth and development across all aspects of the lifespan.
Not to mention the fact that group physical activity (such as sports) provide one of the best environments to build social skills and develop essential human traits such as empathy and teamwork.
But there is a bit of a kicker: in the modern world it can actually be quite difficult to become active as a family.
But that just makes it even more important.
Did you know that the world health organisation now recommended that children get a minimum 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day?
I can almost feel you shaking your head in disbelief at this information, as you quickly come to terms with the fact that you and your children are (most likely) not doing quite enough.
Which I understand completely.
It may seem like a lot at first – but I should reiterate, this is actually very attainable.
Seriously, by following the tips outlined in this article, you can become more active as a family and reap the rewards together while setting the perfect example for your children in the process.
1. Don’t overthink it
When it comes to increasing your exercise levels, most families fail before they even start – and this is because they overthink it. While I certainly agree that increasing your activity levels as a family is not necessarily an easy thing to do, it shouldn’t be all that complex.
In fact, it should be simple enough that it seamlessly becomes part of your daily routine.
With this in mind, I strongly recommend that you start by sporadically integrating small chunks of activity throughout your days, instead of making it this huge big thing.
A great first step to take is to begin walking your kids to school every single school day – and if it is too far to walk entirely, drive some of the way and walk the rest. Additionally, start taking the stairs at every opportunity, and walk your dog as a family every single afternoon.
Not only are these tasks extremely simple in isolation (and require very little time commitment), over time they will cause a large increase in your weekly activity levels. Moreover, they build a foundation of normal physical activity that your children can build their lives upon!
2. Lead By Example
When it comes to becoming active as a family, an extremely important aspect relates to your ability to set a good example. And in all honesty, it makes sense. Really, how can you expect anyone within your family to become more active if you are not willing to do the same?
By taking those first steps and choosing to change your own life for the better, you demonstrate to your partner and children that you are willing to invest in your health, and that it should be a priority no matter what.
So start getting outdoors and moving every afternoon.
Join a gym, and actively choose to spend some time exercising at home.
While these steps are integral to actually becoming healthier on an individual level, it also provides a very good example to your children – and after watching you take these steps, they will quickly become a part of normal life.
Many of these steps will slowly become something that you do as a family.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I realise that taking these first few steps is no easy feat. Which is exactly why you should take it upon yourself to lead by example and make it easier for the rest of your family!
3. Keep it Fun
It is incredibly important to remember that exercise should never be viewed as either a chore or as a punishment – it should be enjoyable.
So make it fun!
Start by allocating set times in the evening to undertake some type of active game. This could be something as simple as throwing around the football in the backyard, or playing a family game of tag.
And if it’s raining? Time to get out Twister and other active board games.
The key here is to make exercise an enjoyable experience, while also reducing sedentary afternoon activity.
4. Have Your Children Start Participating in a Sport
When it comes to healthy growth and development, sport is the perfect means of facilitation.
Not only does provide your children an opportunity to exercise regularly, it also plays a key role in the development of both motor skills and social skills which I am sure many of you would agree are absolutely integral in later life.
By having your child participate in a sport, you also find a task that you can help out with as a family. Whether this means practising with them in the back yard, or acting as team manager on game day, it doesn’t really matter. The key is to get involved and be there as a family.
5. Actively Reduce Your Family’s Screen time
Now our final point is less about exercise specifically and more about limiting a sedentary (and dare I say, harmful) activity.
Over the last twenty years the amount of time we are spending in front of a screen as a family has increased exponentially.
Now while this may not sound like the worse thing on the planet, it does severely restrict the time that we have available to actually undertake any form of physical activity – which can then cause some rather serious problems.
You see, an increase in sedentary activity has shown strong associations with an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, declines in mental and emotional wellbeing, and unwanted weight gain.
Not to mention an increase in sedentary activity as a child is going to make you much less active as an adult, suggesting that it will put them on their back foot for the rest of their lives!
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you actively limit screen time to 1 or 2 hours max each day, you will force yourself to do something else as a family.
And fortunately for us, most things that don’t involve a screen tend to require some form of physical activity – making it the perfect way to reduce sedentary activity and increase your families physical activity levels.
Increasing your activity level as a family may seem like a daunting task, but I would argue that is essential for anyone looking to boost the health of their family and set a good example for their kids.
Now, although this may not seem easy at first, it doesn’t have to be complex.
By slowly implementing these five key steps listed in this article you can make some huge changes in your activity levels easily and efficiently, causing massive health change as a result! This is going to set your children up for long-term success across their entire lifetime – so get started!
Thanks Demmy for sharing your tips for families. Check out Muscle and Strength for more active lifestyle inspiration.
You may also enjoy…
Good Parenting Advice
Thanks for sharing this, I have a little boy and he is a handful, unlike my two older daughters. I am a new reader here and I am glad I found this site. Good Keep it Up
Great article! Thanks for sharing it.